A public service provided by The West Virginia State Bar.

Practice Areas


Immigration laws, regulated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), cover the orderly immigration or visitation of foreign nationals into the United States. An immigrant is a person who wants to enter, live, and work in the U.S. indefinitely; whereas, temporary visitors are just that, temporary visitors. They wish to enter for a particular purpose, even stay for a period of years, but not stay indefinitely.

Entrance Eligibility

A foreign national may be eligible to enter the United States for purposes such as:

  • Reunification with Family
  • Study
  • Work
  • Perform
  • Investment
  • Refuge/Asylum
  • Diversity

Reunification with Family

A family member, who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, can sponsor a petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) to have a family member admitted the U.S. to live and work. Spouses and children are given preference over other relatives. Proof of family relationship must be provided.

Examples would be a U.S. citizen who sponsors his children to join him in the U.S. or a U.S. citizen who sponsors his new spouse to immigrate to the U.S.


Temporary visas are available to those who wish to study, work, or travel in the U.S. These are nonimmigrant visas, meaning they are limited to a period of time.

Examples would be a foreign national student who wishes to study nuclear physics at MIT or a foreign national couple who wishes to visit the Grand Canyon.


A U.S.-based employer can petition to have workers admitted to the U.S. with permission to work for a period of years or reside and live in the U.S. permanently. The worker must be particularly skilled and may apply for a temporary visa or an immigration visa.

For immigration, labor certifications must be filed (Forms ETA 750 and ETA 750B) and Form I-I40 Petition for Alien Worker must be filed with supporting documentation.

Examples would be an American bio-tech company that sponsors a highly regarded Phd and a U.S.-based company that sponsors a communications technology expert.


Foreign nationals who display extraordinary ability and achievement, as well as those who have critical skills and experience, may apply for a visa. This O & P visa is temporary, and lasts for the time it takes for the foreign national to participate in a U.S.-based function.

Examples would be a world-renowned ballerina, an Olympic team, or an artist that is part of an exchange program.


If a foreign national, person or company, wishes to invest funds in a business situated in the U.S. and his or her presence and the presence of employees is essential to the business succeeding, the foreign national can apply for entrance for a period of years or a permanent immigrant status. A temporary visa is appropriate for a period of years and a Form I-526 is used by an immigrant (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.)

An example would be a foreign national company that wants to open a software development company in Silicon Valley, hiring American workers.


A foreign national is eligible to file for refugee status if he or she has either suffered or is fearful of suffering persecution in his or her home country. Such persecution may be based upon nationality, race, religion, political views, or group membership.

An example would be someone from Darfur or Rwanda.


The lottery program allows up to 55,000 foreign nationals (annually) from countries with very low immigration rates to immigrate to the U.S. in the pursuance of diversity.

Examples of low immigration countries would be Egypt and Congo.

Where to Get Help with Immigration Matters

Consult with a qualified immigration attorney for help with immigration matters. An immigration attorney can help you to determine your best course for entering the United States, represent you in court, and thoroughly explain the application process.

Get a 30-minute consultation from a local, qualified lawyer for $25 or less.

Request a lawyer online

Or call and speak with a volunteer lawyer.


6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.